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Guide to the Listen to This: Crown Heights Oral History collection 2010.020

Brooklyn Historical Society
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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Brett Dion

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 22, 2017
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Container List

Taylor, Robert, 2010 April 1

Biographical / Historical

Robert Taylor was born in a small town in Texas in 1939. He graduated high school in 1964 and by that time had already held odd jobs as a gardener and paperboy and worked at a shoe store, a nursing home, a drug store and a bowling alley. Taylor was drafted into the military, trained in Louisiana and learned radio/TV repair, fought and was captured for a time in Vietnam, and served on a base in California. After his service, he worked for several years as a station porter for the New York City Transit Authority, as a shipping/receiving clerk in a hospital, and for the United States Postal Service. When he moved to Brooklyn's Crown Heights neighborhood in the 1970s, Taylor's first apartment was a shared studio. One of his roommates became his wife, and they moved to their own apartment in the Flatbush neighborhood. Taylor frequented the jazz nightclub Blue Coronet (1965 - 1985) in Bedford-Stuyvesant and other bars, and alcoholism took a toll and ended his marriage. At the time of the interview in 2010, Taylor was retired and had been a resident of Marcus Garvey Nursing Home for one year.

Scope and Contents

In the interview, Robert Taylor goes over his many biographical details in a loose, vague timeline. He mentions military service and several jobs he had over his lifetime; the longest being with the New York City Transit Authority. It was during that time as a station porter, that he discovered a dead body on the platform. He reflects on the work his parents did and how they instilled a work ethic and values. Taylor talks about the difficulties of sharing his first cramped apartment, where he met the woman he went on to marry. He speaks of the move they made to Flatbush and how he witnessed the rising blight from drug traffic and shuttered businesses that changed Crown Heights. Taylor recalls learning about radio and television repair in the service, as well as how it felt to be drafted. He offers his sound advice to high school students and reflects on what he was like in his school days. Interview conducted by Alex Kelly.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library and online on the Oral History Portal. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact

Subject Names

  • Taylor, Robert

Subject Organizations

  • New York City Transit Authority
  • United States. Army

Subject Topics

  • Basic training (Military education) -- United States
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Drug traffic -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Education -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Games -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Housing -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Nightclubs -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Nursing homes -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Older people -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Economic conditions |y 20th century
  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Texas
  • United States |x Armed Forces